Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I've veered from meat for a few different reasons:
- Corporate meat freaks me out. The massive feedlots, questionable slaughterhouses, sick animals, distance traveled, etc. It just doesn't sit right. Read Fast Food Nation. If that doesn't change your eating habits, I don't know what will.
- I don't know how to cook it. Because I've always avoided it, I don't really know what to do with it other than toss some ground beef into a chili recipe (or things along that line).
- Oh, and when you don't know where your meat is coming from, you don't know where it has been, how it has lived, or what diseases it has encountered. Like Mad Cow. That really makes me uncomfortable; especially with some of the stuff I've read, like the poor monitoring systems for Mad Cow in the US. But within this reason also lies: antibiotics, questionable eating habits, E. coli, sorry living conditions, etc. Let's get back to locally produced foods!!
After reading Nourishing Traditions and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this fall, I decided I wanted to incorporate more meat into our diet, with an important clause: it has to be local. I don't like eating and feeling uneasy at the same time. We bought the quarter from a small diversified family farm in our area (and split it with Squeeze's parents). They raise cows, pigs, and chickens. We buy eggs from them as well.
Here's how it went down:
They brought the cow to a local meat locker, where it was butchered and hung (or is that hung and butchered?): we contacted the locker and specified the cuts of meat we wanted as well as the weight for our quarter. A couple of weeks later, they called us to come and get it. Everything was neatly wrapped in butcher paper or air-tight plastic (but mostly paper, which I like).
Now I have to figure out what to do with all this meat.
Ha! So far, I've made 2 juicy burgers [on the cast iron skillet, with kosher salt sprinkled across the griddle - they were amazing] and then, last night, I made the most astounding meal that we've had in a long time. I'm serious: it was unbelievable. Flavorful, robust, and alluring - we were oooing and ahhhhing the whole night through, all because I had a hankering for meatballs with pasta.
I found the recipe in a book my mom got me, called First Meals by Annabel Karmel. Thanks, Mom!! The meatballs where in the Fun Foods section, the pasta sauce, in Family Meals. [Meal: what a weird word.] These recipes have been tinkered with, just a little. Also, I didn't have the pesto for the tomato sauce, but it was delightful even without it.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 small apple, grated
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- Salt & pepper to taste
Mix it all together, then coat in flour and fry in a cast-iron skillet.
Special Tomato Sauce
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 4 TBSP pesto
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp sugar
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Shredded fresh basil
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the garlic. Saute a bit, then add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the basil and cheese. Simmer gently for 15 minutes or so. Add the basil and Parmesan, cook just until the cheese has melted.
Serve with pasta of your choice. Delicious with red wine.
Now...onwards and forwards I go into battle, learning to cook red meat. My next venture: pot roast.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Starbeans is recovering from a cold. He started to get sick last Thursday: sneezing, running snot, watery red eyes, low-grade fever. Just in time for our 4-day weekend. Drat. But thank goodness Squeeze was around. I don't think I could have done it without him. When I said that this weekend, he replied, "You wouldn't have done it without me. I would have stayed home for sure." Awwww...
So, the entire weekend, Squeeze took Starbeans under his manly wing and I had Pumpkin Duty. It was rough on me to not be able to be with Starbeans 24/7 while he was sick, but we did switch off now and then so I could snuggle with him. We were absolutely zealous about preventing cross-contamination, to avoid, at all costs, dealing with a sick 5 week old. I washed my hands so many times that my knuckles cracked and bled. Same with Squeeze, although I don't think he was bleeding. I also changed shirts regularly and washed my neck, chest, and breasts. Anything to avoid sickness!
I'm pleased to say that no one is sick [yet]. Both Squeeze and I feel normal and we don't see any signs of illness in Pumpkin. I desperately hope it stays this way!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I also add several chopped carrots and celery to the pot for the last hour or so, in addition to doubling the recipe. More really is better!
15 Bean Soup
2 cups beans (whatever combination you so desire)
2 quarts water
1 ham hock
1-2 cloves garlic
1 can tomatoes
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
Salt & pepper to taste
Wash beans thoroughly. Place beans in a pan or kettle & cover with water: soak overnight. In the morning, drain, rinse, add 2 quarts water. Add ham hock, chopped onion, tomatoes, chili powder, and garlic.
Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 3 hours or more. Salt and pepper to taste. Best if made 1 day before serving.
I didn't have celery yesterday, so I added cabbage instead; it was delicious. This soup will be made with cabbage from now on. It was that good.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Like the schedule at the OBGYN, I saw my midwives once a month during the beginning and middle of my pregnancy, going to twice a month at the middle-end, and once a week for the last month. Only, these visits were anywhere from 1-2 hours instead of the harried 5 minutes at the doctors' office [where all questions flew from my mind when, during the last 30 seconds, I was asked, "Do you have any questions?" I usually left wondering why I had even made the effort to get off work and take the bus downtown (transferring once) to get there]. Yes, I am biased; but it is based on experience.
At the pre-natal appointments, the midwives took my blood pressure, analyzed urine results, measured my belly, listened to placental and fetal tones [on an bizarre looking instrument called a fetascope], and felt my legs for swelling. They also took notes on how I was feeling and wrote recommendations, if any, in my pre-natal notes. Furthermore, I was able to obtain pre-natal vitamins through them as well as a number of other herbal remedies and anti-fungals. I didn't realize how extensive their care was: it was very convenient to be able to get this stuff through them, rather than having to go get it myself. Midwives are also very big on proper nutritional intake and checked in with me on each visit what, and how much, I was eating (this was particularly important with my systemic yeast issues). Finally, they required that I meet with a back-up doctor at least once before delivery and recommended that I have an ultrasound done at 32 weeks to locate the placenta. This is responsible midwifery at its finest. They aren't out to undermine the medical establishment, like the medical boards in states like South Dakota and Mississippi like to believe. Hospitals and medically-managed births have their place, but like Judy said last night, "People don't know that they have options."
At the post-natal appointments, the midwives check the baby's heart rate, respirations, color (checking for jaundice), and in Pumpkin's case, his tongue [for thrush...that dratted yeast!]. For me, they feel for my [shrinking] uterus and check in with me about my lochial flow, breasts, nursing, perineal soreness, and how I'm feeling. Our third and final post-natal appointment was last night.
Midwives work on both levels: emotional and physical. I felt extremely well-informed throughout the entire pregnancy, labor and delivery, and now, with a newborn. Not just because of the reading I've done, but through the ability to converse with extremely experienced midwives: women whose knowledge base in rooted weekly (if not daily) in the reality I was living. They easily affirmed that my experiences or observations were normal and often knew what I was talking about before I could even connect the dots in my own mind. It was so helpful! I am very thankful for these women.
Spread the word, ladies.
Monday, November 12, 2007
After 3-4 days of misery, we're back on track. Or...as on track as you can get with a potty training 2 year old. There is no way that I am going to go back to diapers at this point: we have come too far, so our options are 1) underwear, or 2) bare buns. Even with our problems, I'd rather clean up soiled pants than changes diapers. I'm done. I found that if/when he is close to peeing and I don't think he'll pay attention to it, all I have to do is take his pants off. He pays attention, uses his potty chair on his own volition, and things go back to "normal". The last 2 days have been accident-free and he has resumed telling us that he needs to go. Very mysterious, but I'll take anything over last week's ordeal. I've heard that it is very common for toddlers to go through regression, so at least I know I'm not alone.
I feel much more balanced than I did the week before last. Aside from a little more experience, I think it also lies heavily with the fact that I have more of a sense of Pumpkin's general schedule: awake for 1 hour in the morning and 3 hours in the evening, while the rest of the day (and night) is sleeping peppered with nursings and diaper changes. I carry him around in the sling most of the day, but also have times where I lay him down; that enables to spend some focused time with Starbeans and/or complete tasks that are much easier to accomplish without a baby on my chest.
I've also figured out ways to sneak in snuggle time with Starbeans. In the morning, he wakes up while Pumpkin is still sleeping. We snuggle in bed and stare at the ceiling, then eventually get up and make breakfast. That has been very important time, especially for me. Another important factor is that our schedule has evened out a bit, which has us better rested. There is nothing like being over-tired to throw a kink into the proceedings! So all in all, I think we've gone through the difficult part of the adjustment [I repeat: I think]. At the very least, I must have gotten used to the idea of having two, because I don't feel as sad as I did. I feel calmer, happier, and at peace with the changes. Things are starting to feel normal.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
What is the deal? Is it always 1 step forward and 15 steps back?
I've been talking about it all morning, like I have been for the last week [I'm sick to death of it, I might add] and he's been saying, "Yeah" and "Okay" and then completely ignoring me. In fact, one of the incidents this morning was after I sat him on his potty chair (I knew he had to go). He likes to read books and has a grand old time. I wasn't watching him because there isn't usually a problem, but eventually heard him say, "Potty in underwear, Mama" and sure enough: I turn around and he is standing up, pants around his knees, with wet underwear. What the...??
I needed to vent.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
[A "recovering" alcoholic, she bought a votive candle for each day she was sober and had them all lined up along the wall on a trim board; once, when I was down there, she told me that she was going to light up all 365 of 'em after she had been sober for one year. House fire, anyone? Another time, a terrible burning smell was wafting up from downstairs: the Crazy Landlady wasn't home, so Squeeze went downstairs to investigate (she never locked her inside or her outside door, ever). He found the stove turned to 500 degrees with a pan of smoldering dried beans at the bottom of it. Or how about the time when we first moved in? She was showing me her place and found a candle burning on her coffee table in the living room. "Oh," she said "That candle is still burning? I lit it yesterday!" My goodness. Squeeze always said it was a matter of when, not if, the place would go up in flames.]
it had beautiful woodwork, hard wood floors, a giant front porch, big windows, and our rent was only 500 dollars. She also let us paint it anything we wanted (along with buying the paint). And, my favorite part, it was only 6 blocks west of downtown and the Minneapolis Farmers' Market. We would walk there most Saturday mornings during the market season. A busride downtown took less than 3 minutes. It was a wonderful little place: I have strong feelings of affection for it.
[Many drug deals went down on our street; there was a permanent path diagonally across the lot to our right from homeless train jumpers making their way downtown (Squeeze called it the Hobo Highway); between us and downtown was 1) a scrap metal yard (which started on fire once), and 2) the City Impound Lot; rude jackasses would drag race in the middle of the night down 2nd Avenue; and once, when the Crazy Landlady was out of town, her Addict Sister holed up in her place for 4 days with a guy she met at rehab, never leaving and blaring KDWB most of the time. Why we didn't call the police, I'll never know. But I still loved it, in spite of its flaws and/or questionable activities. It was a thrilling place to live.]
But the real reason for me going on and on about our duplex (known to us as "Humboldt") is this:
Last night was especially chilly in these parts and with daylight savings, it was getting dark by the time Squeeze got home from work. I thought about Humboldt, and how we put up round globe Christmas lights along the front of our porch during the winter months. They were so pretty. Squeeze used to plug them in before I got home, so as I walked the 2 blocks from my bus stop in the dark, I could see their colorful glowing light and feel happy. [I honestly can say, they calmed me down and soothed me after being gone all day.]
And that is where my nostalgia lies: that my sweet husband plugged them in just to make me happy. And it did: I would smile the entire 2 blocks, becalmed.
Monday, November 05, 2007
I think I needed to re-acclimate myself with looking at a newborn's teensy-weensy body again, because now I look at the Starbeans' tree trunk legs and can hardly believe it. This kid is solid. He is tall, thick, strong, and when I put his Night Diaper on him, I can barely believe the size of his gargantuan toddler body. It feels like I'm putting a diaper on a teenager. He can run, he can jump, he can climb, and man, is he solid. I'm amazed.
So yes, the Size Shock hit...but it was interesting how it took a little time before my mind was blown (and continues to be blown).
Potty Training Update:
We have finally moved to wearing underwear. Last week, I decided that it was just too cold for going bare and bit the bullet. After a couple of days of numerous pants changes and continuous chatter from me
("Starbeans, if you have to go potty, remember to pull down your pants and underwear and go potty in the potty chair" or "Remember, if you need to go potty, you need to pull down your underwear and pants and sit on the potty chair - I don't want you to go potty in your underwear" or "If you need to go potty, say, 'Potty, Mama' and I'll help you pull down your underwear and pants and sit on your potty chair" blahblahblahblah - literally, probably every 5 minutes for the entire day)
the light bulb finally flashed and he started doing just that: letting me know he needed to go, and pulling down his pants/underwear himself. And GOING. We've been heaping praise on him and he seems to be extremely proud of himself, so I believe we've turned another corner. I am so pleased!
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Both recipes included in this post contain things I make and/or regularly have on hand, which makes me want to pat myself on the back. It also makes meal prep a breeze. I don't really have to plan much, except to thaw the chicken stock beforehand.
- Chicken stock - Made regularly and frozen in quart canning jars for future use.
- Cooked chicken - I usually make stock with a whole chicken, then used the meat from it for soups and sandwiches for the rest of the week and/or freeze it for future use.
- Turnip greens - from the turnips we planted this summer for our first venture into root cellaring. They look great; we're going to have turnips all winter long. It has been very fun to be able to use the greens along the way as well: first for salads; then as the greens got older & tougher, in cooking.
- Blackstrap molasses - I never used to have this around, but I recently added it to my repertoire and my goodness, have I used it!
Quick Whole Wheat and Molasses Bread
1 2/3 cups plain yogurt
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup molasses
Mix dry ingredients
Mix wet ingredients
Mix wet & dry together
In a 9 X 5 inch pan, bake @ 325 until a toothpick stuck into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about an hour. [30-40 minutes if setting aside half the batter and using a smaller loaf pan.] Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve.
Chicken Soup with Rice
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup brown rice
3-4 carrots, chopped
2-3 celery, chopped
Eyeball a good amount of cooked chicken
Handful of cooking greens
Salt & pepper to taste
Bring the stock to an almost boil: add the rice and vegetables, cover, and turn the heat to low. Cook for about 20 minutes, then add the chicken, salt & pepper, and the cooking greens. It will be ready to eat within minutes. Serve.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
- Squeeze went back to work on Monday, so now I am alone for 9 hours a day. It was so wonderful to be able to have him home for an entire week. It was relaxing and reassuring for both of us and rejuvenating for him. The three R's. I miss him. Starbeans has been asking, "Dada go?" all week.
- I'm still trying to figure out this whole Two Children thing. Things have not struck a balance yet. I'm not surprised, but I am really looking forward to having things figured out a bit more. My mom said that looking back, this adjustment will just be a blip on the radar. I can't wait! We don't have any routine right now, it is just pure survival. I flit from one thing to the next, trying to make sure we're all fed, clean, and sane.
- I've realized that, emotionally, the hardest thing for me is my changing relationship with Starbeans. I can't be there for him 100% like I was just 2 short weeks ago. I am grieving because of it. I look into his bright eyes and see his pearly little teeth inside that big smile and I feel mournful over the changes. I can't pick him up every time he gets hurt or cries, or hold him spontaneously; I have another one now who needs me more. It makes my heart ache to see him cry and to be able to give him only a clumsy half-hug. Or snuggling with him at night...he has been relegated to one side of the bed, with a body pillow in between us. It doesn't seem to bother him as much as I thought it would, but I've really missed snuggling with him.
- It doesn't help matters that I am over-tired and short on patience. I've noticed that when I am 1) too hungry, or 2) sleepy and/or exhausted, my patience runs extremely thin. It is hard, because poor sweet Starbeans doesn't understand that. I'm working at keeping food on hand at all times and sleeping as much as possible. This is hard, though, because I've got a two year old who goes to bed between 10:00 and 11:00 [getting up between 8:00 and 9:00]. Curses! This has been the schedule since our move. Before that, bedtime was between 9:00 and 10:00 (which would be much more manageable).
- Finally, Starbeans has chosen these past couple of weeks to become fanatically and maniacally interested in torturing our cats. The kid is crazy. He is constantly wondering where they are ["Toots go?" or "Bay go, Mama?"] and when he finds them, he is squeezing the life out of them, hitting them, or throwing things at them. We've had to get pretty serious with discipline: getting scratched and bitten is not deterring him. He is no longer even allowed near them; when he asks, "Toots go?" I tell him: "You are not allowed to play with the cats" right off the bat. He is listening fairly well, but I have to say it probably 20-30 times a day. I've gotten somewhat harsh in my tone when I say it, so he knows I mean business, and it has made him cry a couple of times when he's been over-tired. Crap, it is getting old. I'm ready to kick their furry butts to the curb. There is nothing like having a newborn that makes pet cats seem like demon pests from hell. I remember feeling like that when Starbeans first made his appearance too. Toots, the especially cranky cat, scratched him today when he climbed up the stairs towards her. He wasn't even being mean, but I think she has had enough. I know I have. But she's the fool who doesn't run: she just walks a couple feet off and then lays down again. Idiot.
This is my list of grievances.
But I do have nice things to say as well.
I love having a newborn again. He is so precious and beautiful. I try to breathe in his sweet scent whenever I can, cherishing every moment. I want to live completely aware of the gift of life, the blessed responsibility of raising up a new little one. I love comforting him, holding him, kissing him, nursing him, loving him. I love watching Starbeans caress his head softly. I love carrying him around in the sling, knowing he is content and safe. I love every little newborn grunt, snort, and sigh. Especially the snorts. I even love changing his little eensy diapers.
I am thankful for, and feel renewed love, affection, and appreciation for Squeeze as well. He has been very tender and loving with me these past few weeks, which has been so comforting. I wish he didn't have to go to work! It would be so nice to stay home and work together; in my fancy, we would live a self-sustaining life and all work would be completed with the end result of staying home and staying together. Is it possible??